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Through agricultural education, students are provided opportunities for leadership development, personal growth and career success. Agricultural education instruction is delivered through three major components:


1) Classroom/laboratory instruction (contextual learning)

2) Supervised Agricultural Experience programs (work-based learning)

3) Student leadership organizations (National FFA Organization, National Young Farmer Educational Association, and National Postsecondary Agricultural Student Organization).


Agricultural education is a systematic program of instruction available to students desiring to learn about the science, business, technology of plant and animal production and/or about the environmental and natural resources systems. Agricultural education first became a part of the public education system in 1917 when the U.S. Congress passed the Smith-Hughes Act. Today, over 800,000 students participate in formal agricultural education instructional programs offered in grades seven-adult throughout the 50 states and three U. S. territories. © National FFA Organization 2014


Below you will find more information about the FFA and SAE components of the Nipomo FFA program. For more information about classroom instruction, please see the individual advisor's pages under the "Meet the Advisors" page.



Public Speaking 

Nipomo FFA offers a wide variety of leadership opportunities to its student throughout the year. These opportunities fall into two main categories: Career Development Events (CDEs) and Leadership Conferences/Experiences. 


CDEs help students develop the abilities to think critically, communicate clearly, and perform effectively in a competitive job market.


There are 24 CDEs, covering job skills in everything from communications to mechanics. Some events allow students to compete as individuals, while others allow them to compete in teams. Nipomo FFA participates primarily in competitive team and individual public speaking events. See below for a list of the events that Nipomo FFA currently participates in. Most events can be clicked to link to the National FFA CDE events pages associated with each contest. Contests at the state level may vary slightly from the National FFA competitions as listed on the National FFA website. Other CDE opportunities are available based on student interest and involvement. For a complete list of all nationally recognized CDEs or more information about the CDEs listed below, check out the CDE Handbook or talk to your FFA advisor.


Other leadership opportunities are also available to Nipomo FFA members. At the chapter level, students are able to run for chapter office, participate on committees and lead peers as a member of the Nipomo FFA Leadership Team. Students also have the opportunity to apply to attend various leadership conferences organized by California FFA.


For freshmen, Greenhand Leadership Conference (GLC) helps orient them to the FFA program, provide them with an introduction to the agriculture industry, helps them become motivated and, to leave the conference with a personal set of goals for their future inside and outside of the FFA.  In their sophomore year, students are encouraged to apply to attend the Made for Excellence Conference (MFE). This sophomore level conference allows students to explore the role of choices and responsibility in their lives, develop strategies for becoming a leader in their home and community, and investigate their own personal strengths and interests. As juniors, student shave the opportunity to attend Advanced Leadership Academy (ALA). ALA allows students to develop a better understanding of how the agriculture industry functions, learn more about the issues affecting agriculture, and gain more experience developing and presenting oral arguments on an identified issue.


For students who show a pronounced interest in leadership development, their are additional leadership development opportunities at the state and national level.  Sacramento Leadership Experience (SLE) is California FFA's capstone leadership development conference for FFA members.  Only 40 of the top students from across the state are selected to attend SLE. Students step into into the role of California's 40 Senators learning how a bill becomes a law, work in committees to develop Senate bills, debate Senate bills in the State Senate Chambers, and meet legislators. Student must go through an intensive application process to be accepted to SLE.


The final capstone leadership experience for FFA members is Washington Leadership Conference (WLC). The five-day conference takes place in Washington D.C.  It brings together students from across the country Attendees learn how to become effective leaders by teaching them to know their purpose, value people, take action, and serve others.

Leadership in the FFA


Leadership Opportunities



Tyler Menane, Reporter




Trevor Autry, Treasurer


© California FFA

© California FFA



© California FFA

Conner Vernon, Reporter




Riley Nilsen, President


© California FFA

© California FFA


Kayla Zalesny, Treasurer


    STATE FFA o 2019-2020

Kayla Zalesny


© California FFA


The Supervised Agriculture Experience  or SAE, is the hands-on application component of agriculture education. Students with an SAE learn by doing. With help from their agricultural teachers, students develop an SAE project based on one or more SAE categories:



-Own and operate an agricultural business (e.g. a lawn care service, a pay-to-fish operation, holiday poinsettia production and sales.)



-Get a job or internship on a farm or ranch, at an agriculture-based business, or in a school or factory laboratory.


Research and Experimentation

-Plan and conduct a scientific experiment. (e.g. Determine whether the phases of the moon affect plant growth, or test and determine the efficacy of different welding methods.)



-Explore careers in agriculture by attending an agriculture career fair, or creating a report or documentary on the work of a veterinarian.



Students in the Nipomo FFA Chapter are graded on their SAE's in two different ways. During the fall semester, all students complete the FFA Proficiency Application for their project area. These Proficiency Applications are a way for students to exhibit their personal growth within their SAE projects.  These applications are judged based on their quality at the local, sectional, regional, state, and national levels. Students who are selected as winners at the State and National level are eligible to win scholarship money as well as recognition. Below, you will find a link to the National Proficiency areas with descriptions of the types of projects that are common in each area.




Below you will find a list of common SAE's amongst students in the Nipomo FFA chapter, and some of the basic information about each project.



Animal SAE's are one of the most popular at NHS. Students typically engage in an entrepreneurship SAE raising either cattle, swine, sheep, or poultry which they exhibit and sell at the Santa Barbara County Fair in mid-July.

In order to be eligible for an animal SAE through NHS, students must meet minimum qualifications and go through an application process. Students are required to have a minimum 2.0 GPA and no F's on their transcripts when final grades post in June. Even students who do meet minimum qualifications may not be selected to show a particular livestock species. Swine are the most popular species, meaning that the application process is more selective than other species  Because of limited resource availability  not all students who want to show swine are able to do so. 


The NHS agriculture department, lovingly known as "Ag Island", is privileged to have excellent horticulture facilities available for student projects. The department has a large greenhouse, shade house, and other areas for plant production. Because Nipomo is located in the heart of greenhouse production on the Central Coast, students who choose horticulture SAEs are preparing themselves to enter one of the most important portions of the agriculture industry in the local area. Student projects can include everything from succulent production to floral design. ​


 Beyond animal and horticulture SAE’s, the sky is the limit in terms of student projects. In the area of agriculture mechanics, students are able to build everything from toolboxes to BBQ pit trailers and everything in between. With a shop facility equipped with woodworking and metalworking equipment, as well as many industry partners with additional tools available, students are able to gain hands-on fabrication skills as they construct various projects.

Another major project available to students in the agriculture department is the “Hay Project” in which selected students are permitted to plant and dry land farm the field in front of Nipomo High School as well as the smaller fields at the school farm and along the side of the school. Typically these fields have been used for hay production in the past, but other crops are a possibility in the future.

Other popular SAE’s include Small Animal Production, Home Improvement, and many more. A complete list of SAE areas can be found below.

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